Opinion - 17/September/2018

Make the North Sea the Silicon Valley of offshore wind power

Lars Christian Lilleholt, Danish energy minister, explains his plans to boost offshore wind expansion in the North Sea through greater cooperation

Regional cooperation is vital if the offshore wind potential of the North Sea is to be realised, argues Lars Christian Lilleholt, Danish energy minister, ahead of WindEuropes 2018 conference in Hamburg, Germany next week

 

To fulfil the Paris climate agreement renewable energy is more important than ever. Today approximately 30% of Denmark’s final energy consumption is covered by renewable energy. This is only made possible by the use of wind power, which is ready to replace fossil fuels in Denmark. But for this to become reality, costs must come down further and we must focus more on offshore wind — where there is more room, more wind and less visual impact.

Denmark has seen an increased focus on offshore wind power in recent years and has started cooperating with the US, China and India, which have all shown interest in learning from our experiences. Denmark holds a unique position thanks to the North Sea which holds real potential to become the Silicon Valley of offshore wind power. But we cannot do it alone. An expansion of offshore wind power in the North Sea requires regional cooperation. This is the message I wish to deliver at the WindEurope conference.

The North Seas Energy Cooperation is a regional forum that was launched in the summer of 2016 and is provisionally planned to be active until the summer of 2019. Its aim is to provide a platform for facilitating cooperation on renewable energy projects, grid development and environmental impact assessments. This can help drive down the costs of offshore energy and spur further investments in renewable energy capacity and interconnections between countries in the region. I am therefore proud that Denmark currently holds the presidency of the Cooperation, which consists of ten countries — Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Norway and Sweden — with participation from the European Commission.

The Commission has estimated that offshore wind from the North Sea can cover up to 12% of the electric power consumption in the EU by 2030. The North Seas Energy Cooperation can help foster harmonised rules and demands that can lead to a reduction in production costs. Companies will no longer have to adapt to the individual needs of every single country and will be able to produce based on one common standard. This can furthermore reduce the price of offshore wind turbines for the good of both consumers and companies, and provide green energy for all of Europe.

 

The aim of the Cooperation is to:

  • Standardise and harmonise rules and demands for offshore wind turbines
  • Coordinate the timing for tenders and develop best practice for the design of tenders
  • Promote economies of scale
  • Share the newest knowledge on how offshore wind can be established in the most cost-effective way

 

Danish Presidency priorities

As the holder of the Presidency, I wish to highlight two important priorities for the coming year.

First, we want to maintain the positive participation of stakeholders, including the wind industry, transmission system operators and researchers. Politicians alone cannot create a better market for offshore wind. We need input, sharing of best practices and willingness from industry to improve conditions. I am very pleased to be invited to present the Danish story on offshore wind as well as our commitment to the North Seas Energy Cooperation at next week’s conference. Stakeholder involvement has been a Danish interest from the beginning and as cooperation progresses and the need for concrete results increases, the positive participation of all actors also grows.

 

Secondly, Denmark is striving to prolong the Cooperation. Over the past two years, I have seen a high level of commitment from member states as well as stakeholders. We have identified many market barriers and established strong communication between the ten countries. In many ways, however, the work has just begun. We still need time to show more concrete results so we can truly create one offshore wind power market in the North Sea. I therefore truly believe that we are not — and should not be — done by the summer of 2019.

I am very pleased that in June Denmark secured a mandate for starting a proposal to prolong the Cooperation during our Presidency. My ambition is that the final step can be taken at a ministerial meeting hosted by Denmark in the summer of 2019 and thereby ensure that the countries of the North Sea cooperate for many years to come.

 


This article is part of a series published by FORESIGHT Climate & Energy in the lead up to Global Wind Summit 2018, held from 25-28 September in Hamburg, Germany. 

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